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John Theophilus Desaguliers


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Table of Contents

Introduction - New Ideas in a Changing Society / 1. Early Life - From Forebears in La Rochelle to Education at Oxford / 2. Lectures in London and Beyond, Royal Recognition and Ecclesiastical Preferment / 3. Demonstrator and Fellow of the Royal Society / 4. Freemasonry - Desaguliers's Contribution to the Early Years of Grand Lodge / 5. Translations from French and Latin, and Troubles with Booksellers / 6. Fire, Water and Air - Desaguliers the Engineer / 7. Patronage - Desaguliers at the Service of the Duke of Chandos and His Great Estate at Cannons / 8. Desaguliers's Influential Work on Contemporary Science - The Publication of A Course of Experimental Philosophy and A Dissertation Concerning Electricity / 9. Poems, Plays and Pictures - a More Personal Perspective / 10. The House in Channel Row - Family, Lodgers, Health and Descendants / Appendices / Bibliography / Index.

Introduction; Part 1 - Development of a Reputation; 1. Early Life and Education: La Rochelle to Oxford; 2. Lectures in London and Beyond, and Royal Recognition; 3. Fellow of the Royal Society; 4. Translations from French and Latin, and Troubles with Booksellers; Part 2 - Applying the Expertise; 5. Patronage and the Duke of Chandos; 6. Fire, Water and Air - Desaguliers the Engineer; 7. Desaguliers' Science and publication of his Course of Experimental Philosophy and Dissertation Concerning Electricity; Part 3 - Life Beyond Science; 8. Freemasonry - Desaguliers' Contribution to the Early Years of Grand Lodge; 9. Poems, Plays and Pictures; 10. The House in Channel Row; Conclusion.

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The first comprehensive biography of a major, but neglected, figure of his age.

About the Author

Audrey T. Carpenter was awarded a PhD in Chemistry from the University of London in 1959. After post-doctoral research she worked as a technical abstractor and librarian before returning to academia as a mature student. She was awarded a PhD in English from Loughborough University in 2010.


Audrey Carpenter's book is essential reading for anyone who wishes to encounter Desaguliers in the round... she has been able to uncover, and here print for the first time, significant pieces of new primary material. This is, in other words, an important work of scholarship. * Ars Quatuor Coronatorum *
Carpenter has provided a detailed and comprehensive account of a sociable, scientific, teacher, whose efforts helped to shape the cultural and intellectual life of 18th-century Britain in so many ways. * Proceedings of the Huguenot Society of Great Britain and Ireland, 2012 *
Now Audrey Carpenter has combined her passion for science with a very real talent for writing about it to present the first thorough account of the whole man. Her seemingly effortless literary style belies the scientific complexity of the material being presented here, drawing together the hitherto disparate elements of Desaguliers' life and the tenets of Newtonian Natural Philosophy into a wonderfully compelling narrative...Carpenter's work is a fine example of the History of Science at its best, and is likely to be the defining work about Desaguliers and his world for many years to come. -- Andrew Pink * Journal for Research into Freemasonry and Fraternalism *
Makes an important and seminal figure ... accessible to a wider audience of readers ... The history of science is richer for [the author's] efforts and students of early-modern science popularization owe Carpenter a debt as her book will become the starting point for all future scholarship on Desaguliers. * Metascience *
If one man sums up the vibrancy and intellectual ferment of Newtonian London, it is the Huguenot exile and pioneering scientist, John Theophilus Desaguliers. Audrey Carpenter's compelling book assiduously reconstructs the many facets of this fascinating man's life, from his demonstrations of Newton's discoveries and his experiments with steam power and electricity to his pivotal role in the creation of new social activities such as Freemasonry. Carpenter vividly evokes through the figure of Desaguliers the coffee houses, taverns, masonic lodges and noble residences of Georgian London. -- Professor Andrew Prescott, King's College London
Carpenter's study of Desaguliers is a carefully researched and thoughtfully written antidote to the persistent neglect Desaguliers has suffered at the hands of historians. Desaguliers's personal history could have relegated him to a liminal status but instead he became a key interlocutor of the early Enlightenment and many of its most important English manifestations: Newtonian science, the Royal Society, Freemasonry, Whiggish politics, practical engineering and the most ethereal of mechanical apparatus -- Susan Mitchell Sommers, Professor of History, Saint Vincent College, US

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